COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Gov. Nikki Haley has made a lot of history as South Carolinas governor, and shes about to make more. But its not the kind of history that the Lexington Republican, the states first woman and first nonwhite governor, could have wanted.
The S.C. House Ethics Committee will start a hearing Thursday to determine if Haley illegally lobbied for her employers while she was a lawmaker. It is the first time a governor has been investigated by the committee.
The Ethics Committee has subpoenaed 11 corporate executives, lobbyists and former government officials for the hearing, as well as documents.
Haley, who has denied any wrongdoing, was not subpoenaed, though her office has left open the possibility that the first-term governor, elected in 2010, might testify. She was interviewed by attorneys representing the committee the day before the subpoenas were issued, but Haley declined to say what they discussed.
We have turned over anything and everything that they want, Haley said last week. It has been an amicable process. And if they want my birth certificate, drivers license, they can get that too.
Here is how the case evolved, a look at the main players and whats at stake, who will testify and who wont:
What are the allegations?
Its alleged that while Haley was a state representative from Lexington County from 2005-2010, she used her office to illegally lobby on behalf of two of her employers the Lexington Medical Center Foundation, where she was a $110,000-a-year fundraiser, and the Columbia-based Wilbur Smith and Associates engineering firm, where she was paid $42,500 as a consultant.
At the time, Lexington was looking for legislative support to build a heart-surgery center. Wilbur Smith was seeking work on the new State Farmers Market.
Haley also has been accused of using her elected office to solicit donations for her employer Lexington Medicals foundation.
What is Haleys defense?
Haleys attorneys have said she was representing her Lexington County constituents, not the hospital, on the heart-center issue and was hired to help win county and private contracts for the engineering firm. Haleys attorneys also have said no rules were broken when lobbyists and companies gave donations to Lexington Medicals foundation.
Who made the allegations?
John Rainey, a Camden businessman who has called Haley corrupt in several interviews. Rainey is longtime GOP activist, who was a major fundraiser for President George W. Bush and was appointed chairman of the state Board of Economic Advisors by Gov. Mark Sanford, Haleys predecessor and mentor.
Raineys attorney is Dick Harpootlian, chairman of the S.C. Democratic Party.
Who will decide the case?
The S.C. House Ethics Committee, composed of five Republicans and one Democrat. None of the members are considered major shakers in the Legislature. The chairman is state Rep. Roland Smith, R-Aiken, a retired pastor. Like the attorneys for both sides, members of the committee will be able to ask questions of witnesses.
If the committee finds Haley guilty of violating state law, what is the potential punishment?
The committee could issue a reprimand or refer the case to the S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson, R-Lexington, to have authorities investigate to determine if a crime was committed.